The women of our family have always taken on the role as the primary caregivers. I watched my mom take care of my Grandmother for over 20 years; doing her grocery shopping, taking her to the doctors, monitoring her medication and being my grandmother’s friend. Right up until the very end, my mom stood by her side and held her hand as she took her last breath. Their relationship was one that stood the test of time; a true testament to a mother and daughter bond.
Two years ago, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. As the only daughter in my family, I assumed a similar role. From choosing a doctor, to researching treatment options, I was involved in his treatment every step of the way. My children and I had the honor of watching him ring the bell as he completed his last radiation treatment, a moment met with grand celebration. He is cancer free.
For the past 15 years, I have thoroughly enjoyed parenting my three sons. But throughout this time, I have often wondered – Who is going to take care of me someday?!? I try to find solace in the fact that I could end up with amazing daughter-in-laws, but most of the time I just say a silent prayer that I will be able to fend for myself and that I will not have to burden my boys.
This summer, as we were leaving the Detroit Fireworks, we were racing through the city, trying to find a restroom for my youngest son. In the process of navigating three children through the crowds, I stepped over a sewer cap just as it began to spout out hot boiling steam. Within seconds, my foot and leg became blistered and I fell to the ground in pain.
Looking back, my kids each assumed a role.
My oldest son, Jacob, grabbed onto my arm and never left my side. He was very serious and diligent as he made sure that I returned to the car safely.
My middle son, Nicholas, was furious and he immediately became the family litigator. He assured me that somebody was going to pay for hurting his mom and he wanted to know who he could contact to make sure that justice was served.
My youngest son, Andrew, – well he remained focused on finding a restroom – but in his defense, he had to pee really, really bad.
Not too long ago, we had a similar incident and I ended up in the emergency room as a result of a reaction to a medication. Again, my kids immediately went into action making sure that I was well taken care of. The hugs, kisses and back rubs were just a small part of the love that they sent my way. My son Nicholas even called from school to check on me. Just the thought of that brings a smile to my face.
We clearly live in a culture in which females have been perceived as the primary family nurturers. This works for some families, but not mine. I just can’t discount my kid’s abilities, nor will I lower my expectations of them just because they are boys. They are capable and well equipped to be caregivers throughout their lives. Not just with me, but with their wives and children, as well.
I know that there is a special bond between a daughter and her parents. I’m a daughter – I get it. But there is also a special bond between a parent and a son, and I am blessed to have three of them. They are amazing, loving, caring boys and I hope that they grow up to be connected, nurturing men.
A couple of days ago, I thanked my boys for taking such good care of me when I was sick. To my surprise, Nicholas gave me a hug and said, “It’s okay Mom, that’s what sons are supposed to do.”
As I wiped the tears away from my eyes, I couldn’t have agreed more.